Thursday, March 11, 2010

Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, "Knights of the Round Table": The incredible Mr. limp-it

Lots of Thursday TV to power through, so some quick thoughts on tonight's "Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains" coming up just as soon as I react to your offer of chocolate with disgust...

After the high of last week's "Survivor"-at-its-finest episode, tonight's show was inevitably disappointing, and not because my man-crush Tom got voted out, while bullying, hobbled jerks Rupert and James remain in the game.

No, I've been bracing for Tom's ouster ever since episode 2, when it was obvious he was in the minority on his team, and at least I got to watch him team up with JT and Colby for that great blindside on Cerie last week.

The problem is that the Heroes are just so inept in challenges - and, at least, had the black humor to list all of the many, many different kinds of challenges they suck at - that we're getting precious little time with the Villains. And when we do spend time with them, we're hearing almost exclusively from Russell, Rob, Coach, and to a lesser extent Parvati. I'm not sure I've heard Danielle say one word all season. Courtney's said maybe a sentence. Jerri talked more in this one than she has in a few weeks. I understand that some players are better interview subjects than others - that Russell's megalomania makes him an entertaining talking head, as do Coach's delusions of grandeur, and that Rob has been doing the reality thing for so long that he knows exactly what to give the camera crew. But unless these four are going to be the final four (and they're not, since Russell and Rob are looking to oust each other), I have a feeling we're going to see several players who've been virtually-invisible to this point go very, very far in the game, and I hate that.

Tom's initial season was even more lopsided at this stage, in that his team never lost an immunity challenge, but the editors did a much better job at balancing things out, so when we got to the merge with all of his group intact, I had a pretty good sense of who everybody was, what the dynamics were, who'd vote which way, etc.

And, yes, it was annoying to see James' smug face staying in the game, and to see Russell find the hidden idol (which will at the very least protect him through the next Tribal Council the Villains go to, whenever that might be, and which only fuels his own inflated sense of self-worth). But there are highs and lows to a "Survivor" season, and not every episode is going to be great, nor will every episode feature good things happening to the people you root for, and so I'm hopeful next week will be better - and that Rob's uncanny gift for puzzles might temporarily fail him so we can see the Villains go to Tribal again for something more interesting than watching James yell at people.

What did everybody else think?

45 comments:

Mac said...

Well, I'm now officially rooting for Rob (unless Colby can pull off a miracle) but I'm afraid he's in a bad spot too. Of course, the way things are going, the Villains might avoid Tribal until the merge.

LDP said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
J. Newman Granger said...

I am really disappointed in JT. I don't see his reasoning in keeping James and staying with Amanda and Rupert. He had numbers with Tom, Colby and Candice. And not only that he had 2 of the most trustworthy players ever to play the game in Colby and Tom! That was a power alliance if there ever was one. As for the rest of the "Heroes", Amanda's act has gotten old. Her hotness doesn't even pardon her. Rupert has proven to be as big an idiot as he looks. Dude gets yelled at last TC by Probst and then does the same thing. And I don't even know where to start with James. I loved the guy in his previous seasons but I guess the side effects of steroid use are finally showing through. Tom is a problem? Um, excuse me but the dude's tribe never lost an immunity challenge in his first season...and wait a second...HE WON THE GAME! As far as the Villians, Russells act has gotten really old, really fast.

Todd said...

Alan, I believe you mentioned a few weeks ago that this is your first SURVIVOR in a while - am I right that you missed Russell's amazing season this past fall? Because I understand your hatred of him: everyone hated him, at least until they saw what an amazing, unprecedented game he played.

Nevertheless, the Parvati Affect is excruciating to watch. Probst went on record saying that if Russell and Rob would only team up they'd take the game to the end. I, for one, hope Russell wises up; when he fails to, it will at least be nice to see Rob be the leader of his demise.

Anyway, there's simply no excuse for the Heroes' sorry performances both at challenges and at tribal. Voting to keep James makes me think less of two other favorites: Amanda and JT.

I'm glad you're covering this show: for as popular as it is, there isn't enough intelligent discourse about it.

AM said...

I understand that if you come into this season, having not watched for a few years, and saw Russell , you wouldn't be a fan but watching his seasons back to back, I can't but root for the guy.
If you saw last season, you'd have a much different appreciation for Russell. The guy obviously brags a lot but he's an amazing player and he always has some trick up his sleeve.

Todd said...

AM: You're right. I should've mentioned: having Coach in one pocket and the idol in the other would be an incredible gambit in his forthcoming war with Rob.

tag said...

I love that they are recycling the best challenges of the past, but that wrestling / basketball challenge is one of the worst ever. It was destined to get someone hurt.

I love how Russel is playing the strategic game. He picks for his allies Parv who has few other options and thus will be loyal. And Coach, a man so weak and easily controlled that you can dis him all day, and still win him back with some honor BS. He gets a big F for the social game so far.

This was the weakest episode of the season so far. All the Coach BS, someone getting hurt, heroes sucking at a puzzle again, and then a vote where alliances trump reason and morality.

Jim said...

I have to disagree with the Russel support above. He looked good last season because everyone else was an idiot. He blabbed and blabbed about being a millionaire when it probably came back to bite him in the ass at the end. He wasted an immunity idol when he really did not need too. He let people know about the idols that did not need to know. And the biggest move of the season where they blindsided the dude was pulled off by the eventual winner.

J. Newman Granger said...

I'm sorry guys but I just watched the whole Samoa season as prep for this one and while Russell played a great game he is by no means a genius out there now. He found a HII with a clue when no one else looked? Why should I be impressed? He can't hold a torch to Rob who made it to the final two of All Stars with no such luxury. The HII is great for the game and makes for incredible tribal councils (see Micronesia) but it doesn't make you a great player. Yes I was impressed with him in Samoa but A) his tribe was almost hand picked for him in that they had no spine and B) he lost. The whole him talking about how great he is is bad TV. And need I say if his season had aired and everyone had the luxury of watching him like he did with them, he would stand ZERO chance to make it the merge.

TimmyD said...

100% with Todd and AM.

Another question for Alan though, have you watched since the idol was added? You have to at least give a little credit to Russell for going after the idol with a "damn the torpedoes" attitude. Even if your only exposure to what the idol can do is from how Tom, Colby and JT used it to manipulate the vote against Cerie.

Johanna said...

I'll agree that Russell was fantastic in Samoa...but in Heroes/ Villains he's just coming across as over-confident and, even worse, far too smitten with Parvati to do any real damage. I could honestly see him being stupid enough to make the same mistake Eric made when he gave the idol to Natalie during Fans vs. Faves. I never would've dreamed Russell could be that dense, but after watching him tonight I'm not so sure.

Not a good episode by any stretch of the imagination. I'm with Alan here; let's hope next week is better.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Another question for Alan though, have you watched since the idol was added?

Yes. I've seen several iterations of it, from the underpowered one Hogeboom used in Guatemala, to the super-powered one Yul used to swing the game in Cook Islands (without even playing it), to the more modern version used in Micronesia.

amysusanne said...

Tom is a problem? Um, excuse me but the dude's tribe never lost an immunity challenge in his first season...and wait a second...HE WON THE GAME!

I'm not really sure why that's a good reason to keep him. HE WON THE GAME! I hate the "vote out the strongest" strategy, but I think things change when you're dealing with people who have played the game before and know each other. JT just voted out a guy who has won before, a guy who quietly bullies those around him into bending to his will. He could win again. Getting rid of him wasn't a bad idea. James is frustrating, but he's not going to win and could easily be gone next. For Amanda's sake, I'm glad he's still there. And let's be serious: they haven't exactly won that much with Tom. He's strong, but he doesn't listen. Just because an unpopular player is the one screaming it doesn't mean that it's not true. The Villians are kicking ass because even though they might be distrustful of one another and, in some cases, active dislike each other, they are cooperative and listen during the challenges. The Heroes don't have that and without Tom they may still lose (because as strong as they are, they suck) but that's one less obstacle. If they lose again next week then James is an easy vote and JT's safe for another week.

At this point, I'm pretty much pulling for Rob. Maybe JT. I still love Amanda and against all better judgement, I've always liked Parvati. Russel's a big yawn and Candice and Rupert should have been gone awhile ago. I wish they'd merge already because I'm not pulling for teams, I'm just pulling for (and against) individual players.

Anonymous said...

I don't see how we can call Russell the best player of all time and Amanda unimpressive when they both lost it for themselves at final tribal? seems a bit hypocritical

RichC said...

I can't believe all the Russell love here. He's an idiot. The ONLY reason he made it to the final 3 last season was because everyone else realized he would never beat them in the end. He was the ultimate goat. Natalie played him like a fiddle and after the reunion he still hadn't figured out what happened.

andythesaint said...

What frustrated me is that no one made the simple argument (that we saw): James could be gone tomorrow if his knee takes a turn for the worse, without any trips to Tribal Council. This would put the Heroes down 9-5. I actually kind of hope this happens.

Even with that, I understand why Rupert and Amanda would still want to keep James (they both need the alliance too much), but JT might have listened to that argument. (The again, JT just became the most important person in his alliance, so maybe this wasn't the worst thing for him. Is there any chance that he's just biding his time until the merge, in the hope that Coach and Tyson hand him the game again).

andythesaint said...

Oh, and I can't wait to see the Villains reaction next challenge: now they don't have to compete against Tom and get a hobbled James. Not that they need the help, but if they really want to be Villains, a well-placed "accidental" bump to the knee might help (and while they're at it, step on Rupert's toe, either before or after he slams a women into a post after a challenge is done).

Nicole said...

The Heroes are playing like a bunch of idiots and while I like JT, I am not impressed with his decision to keep James, who is physically lame and whose only worth was as a physical player, and who has killed morale by being a jackass to many of the players. Colby, Tom and Candace are who he should ally himself with until the merge. The Heroes are zeroes right now and these boneheaded moves are exactly what helped Russell go so far in Samoa.

While I did come to appreciate Russell by the end of Samoa, he did ultimately fail the social game by losing the final vote. However, I don't think he has done that badly at this point. He definitely has Coach and Parvati on his side, and since Parvati managed to win, she has proven to have better strategy than Rob when it comes to winning the game.

Rob may dislike Russell, but we really don't know where Jerri stands, who Tyson is likely to follow, or what Sandra would do. I don't think Rob has as much support as he thinks he does, although we might not see how that plays out for a few weeks as the Heroes seem to implode.

I could not understand Colby's refusal to eat the chocolate because he was so focused yet eagerly sits out the challenge. For once Probst called out his favourite for idiocy and deservedly so.

Although there was no blindside and I don't agree with who was voted off, I don't think this was a bad episode overall. My only quibble is the lack of focus on the Villain team for anyone not named Rob, Coach or Russell.

amysusanne said...

I don't think Rob has as much support as he thinks he does, although we might not see how that plays out for a few weeks as the Heroes seem to implode.

I get the impression that, for now, people are happy with Rob and I base that on Russell's growing hatred of him. That seemed apparent a couple of weeks ago when people deferred to Rob and Rob showed himself to be a leader in challenges and in helping them get their act together around camp. Russell's talking heads started getting a little desperate and making even less sense than usual. Unless someone has a serious alliance with him, then I'd guess Rob will be one of the first considered for the boot at the merge (unless he's gone before then) but as a team I think they're behind him. If they weren't I don't think Russell would be so fixated on him.

andythesaint said...

The thing is, Rob could have the loyalty of the majority of the Villains and still be gone at the next vote. As long as Russell plays the immunity idol when everyone else votes for him (as seems to be the plan), Rob is gone. And it could easily go that way, with Rob's stated lack of knowledge on idol play.

And with that, I should probably stop trying to dominate this comment board.

Andrew said...

I was really hoping to see Coach turn to Russell and very quietly order, "sweep the leg."

Alan Sepinwall said...

As long as Russell plays the immunity idol when everyone else votes for him (as seems to be the plan), Rob is gone.

On the other hand, if Rob has everybody on his side except for Russell and Parvati, he can then get his alliance to execute Plan Voodoo and split the votes so that one of Russell or Parvati goes home, and the idol is neutralized. If Russell really does have Coach in hand, things get a bit trickier, though I may have forgotten what the procedure is these days in event of a tie. If it goes 3-3-3, and the 3 against the idol-holder are thrown out, does everybody vote again (in which case, everybody on Team Rob votes against the non-holder), or do they immediately go to a tie-breaker challenge?

Anonymous said...

from wat ive seen from watchin sandra seems to be very fond of rob not overly so but ive sensed an informal alliance between sandra and rob. im pretty sure sandra said in one of the episodes that she "like the way he played the game." I would assume Tyson would go wherever the numbers are and if it looks like russel have evn a slight chance then he would side with him cause he would have a strong ally in coach with his loyalty bit.
Jerri and coach also seem to be linked aqlthough i dont know how serious it is compared to pavrati and russel, but jerri comin along with coach doesnt seem likely since jerri has said she hates pavrati. I think it'll be rob, sandra, courtney on one side and russel, pavrati, coach on the other, with tyson and danielle possibly goin over with russel cause russel went up to danielle in the first episode.
The crux of the whole plan seems to rest on coach in my eyes, because tyson knows he has a friend with him, and if coach goes with russel that means his 2 best friends on the island, jerri and rob would be against him.
Look for what coach ends up doing, his blissful ignorance & arogance is controlling this game

Anonymous said...

and alan says what i said more more succiently 3mins earlier, lol, i hate myself

Anonymous said...

also, if tyson makes it to the merge which i suspect he will, j.t. is most likely done anyway. With the numbers and a smart group behind him it doesnt matter who j.t. aligns himself with at this point in my humble opinion.

The thing thats going to be reallty interesting to me is going to be the jury, im guessin will be more villians then heroes, would villians vote for villians just in spite of the heoroes, just to stick a pin in their hubris? to me bringing a hero to the finals if ur a villian seems like a smarter move, but im talkin like this game is 3 quarters done, sorry im rambling.

Wade Kwon said...

It's not so much that the Heroes are terrible at challenges -- which they are, at least the puzzles. It's that the Heroes have no leader manipulating the votes. Although Rob and Russell are butting heads at the Villains camp, I bet they could decide as a tribe who goes next.

But with the Heroes, it's a free-for-all too soon in the game. So you get crazy choices like James vs. Tom. JT is in a good spot as swing vote on a lousy tribe.

If you want to see my recap, it's here.

John Sturgeon said...

The Heroes tribe is pretty sickening to watch as I hate Rupert, JT, Amanda, and James. Seeing Tom go means Colby is done soon as well. Hope Boston Rob makes a deep run and think he will so long as he doesn't get duped by Parvati and Russell.

andythesaint said...

A Plan Voodoo could definitely work, but I worry that Rob (and Sandra's) lack of familiarity with immunity idols could prevent them from executing it. And Coach is a wild card (although, I'm guessing Rob could win him over easily, I worry that he won't make the effort, believing that he already has Coach's support).

Also, we don't actually know who's on Parvati's side and who isn't. Clearly Jerri isn't, and I imagine Sandra isn't, but it's not out of the question that Danielle and Courtney are. We just haven't seen enough to even guess their real dynamics.

Although mostly, I suppose I'm just worried that Rob will go soon (and thus, a lot of my enjoyment of this season), and worse, at the hands of Russell.

tribalism said...

I honestly thought that the feast of chocolate won in the Reward Challenge would have made the nutrient-deprived Villains so sick that there would have been no way for them to compete for the Immunity Idol.

Did anyone else notice James trying to rip that coconut (mango?) apart in the background as others talked strategy? Was he really trying to convince everyone how useful he could still be in the event that all the remaining challenges don't require a person who needs to sit down the whole time? I have to say, I don't think that torso-only competitions are going to be as prevalent as James is hoping.

More thoughts about tonight's episode available at my blog where I go into detail about why JT has sealed his fate and the Heroes can't win. Click my username for the link.

Jon said...

Wow. JT and Candace pretty much screwed themselves by ousting Tom. I can't see any of the Heroes going far enough to win at this point. As someone who has always hated Rupert I'm wondering if his admirers from before are still rooting for him despite all the arrogance and incompetence. Really want him gone.
Ditto Russell. I'm on team Natalie - Russell's social game wasn't good enough to win and he's making the same mistakes. Can't you fake it through an hour of "dragon slayer chi" (loved sandra and court rolling their eyes) and look for HII later? Scenes like this make me question his overall social game, it can't be all strategy all the time. If he does take out Rob i'll be rooting for Parvati to beat him in the final 2

Jill said...

So far the player who comes across best on Team Numbnuts (Heroes) isn't even there playing the game. It's Stephen Fischbach, who we now realize should have won Survivor Tocantins. J.T. is clearly lost out there without him. And there's only so long killer eyelashes and a great smile get you, especially after you've already won a million bucks and that aw-shucks thing has ceased to be adorable and comes across more like "John Edwards: The Early Days."

The psychological difference between these teams is something to watch. The so-called "Heroes" were picked to be people with good social games, but none of them can stand each other. Over at Team Snidely Whiplash, they revel so much in their role as villains that it gives them cohesiveness. The only drama there is which alpha dog, Russell or Rob, will prevail.

I'm finding myself rooting for Rob this season, who's coming across as this season's J.T. -- hardworking, kind, smart, a good team player. Who'd have thought?

You had

Gish said...

Don't count on Plan Voodoo going into effect. Russell is way overconfident with the Hidden Immunity Idol, something which serverd him well last time but will kill him here. Last time he whipped out the Idol and wore it during Tribal Council, then didn't play it. Wouldn't be surprised to see this kill him here.

Mike said...

At first I hated what JT did, as Tom is one of my all-time favs. But now that I think about it, JT has done the smartest thing he could do these past two weeks.

He voted off the two most dominant social players on his tribe. I truly think he will now hold on to Colby and eliminate James or one of the girls.

With Tom and Cirie gone, JT can wish-wash his way to the merge.

Kyle said...

I'm not too worried about Rob and Sandra not knowing how to deal with an immunity idol since it wasn't in there previous seasons. They both seem to be very smart people. I wouldn't be surprised if they prepared by watching previous seasons to study how their opponents play the game in a given set of circumstances. True, it hurts not knowing Russell's game play, but I think all of Rob's "I never played with an idol and am trying to figure it all out" is him blowing smoke.

That's not to say he won't be the next one voted out, but if he is I don't think it will have anything to do with him not understanding how the idol is/has been used.

J. Newman Granger said...

Few things after glancing through here. JT in no way made a smart move in voting off Tom. He said it himself, he needs to take someone who has won it before as far as he can to increase his odds. Secondly, not sure how it makes sense to align with two incompetent injured alpha males and Amanda over two players in Tom and Colby who proved time and again in their seasons and this one how loyal they are. For the record Tom has done really well in all the challenges. He dominated Russell in sumo (which I found surprising) and he was neck and neck with Rob in leading last weeks immunity challenge. JT lost a lot of respect (stop bitin your nails dude). The Heroes tribe in general have been idiots since the Sugar vote. You keep the strongest players in the tribe until the merge...not a player who can't move!

Chris said...

I don't understand all the Russell hate. I get that his over confidence can be annoying, especially amongst a better group of players, but without question he dominated Samoa, including Natalie. He lost to Natalie not because she was some great social player, but because of a bitter jury. Even Probst says Russell got robbed.

Also people keep saying that he's making the same mistakes that he made in Samoa. Maybe this is true in your mind, but remember this season was filmed before the finale of Samoa happened, so in his mind he's trying to use a similar strategy that just got him to the final two, and probably feels confident that he will win.

However I do think now that based on his emotional reaction in the Samoa finale, that he probably doesn't make it to the end.

Helen said...

I agree that Rob's comments about the HII are just a smokescreen. Do none of you remember his time on TAR when he used his knowledge of the rules/penalties to his own advantage? I refuse to believe that he'd come to the island without knowing the rules backwards and forwards and I'm sure he's thought of all the voting possibilities and how to exploit them. Can he pull it off, maybe not, but I for one will not bet against him.

Also, if Russell succeeds in outsting him I might have to boycott the rest of the season. Cerie and Boston Rob are my two most favorite players and without them I'll be too sad to watch!

Anonymous said...

Alan, regarding the tie votes...

First, the tribe re-votes. If no one switches, they'll no longer do the tiebreaker challenge and instead move to the Purple Rock of Death last seen in Marquesas. This came up in Somoa - John flipped on Laura because he feared the Rock.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Thanks. So Plan Voodoo works with or without Coach on Rob's side (assuming everyone else is with him about wanting to get rid of Russell and/or the idol). 3 vote Russell, 3 vote Parvati, and even if Russell and Parvati and Coach all vote Rob, Rob's group revotes after the idol is flushed and Parvati goes home (or Russell, if he's dumb enough to give her the idol).

Anonymous said...

I get the feeling the Rob doesn't have the numbers he thinks he does. I hope he makes it to the merge because he's been fun to watch this year, but I get the feeling that Courtney and Danielle and Parvati are all going to go along with Russell.

I think JT made a stupid move an sounded even dumber doing it. He sounded like he had no choice but to go with the James/Amanda/Rupert Allianceof stupidity when the Tom Colby Candace grouping was there for the taking and a much stronger group. I get the feeling he's sticking with Amanda and James because of their connections on the other side, because they don't seem to be too worried about being down numbers.

Lastly, I really hope James doesn't leave for any medical reasons because I want to be able to have the satifaction of watching that clown get the boot. He has a dumber soundbite every tribal council that passes.

-MJ

Anonymous said...

sorry to add on, but they really haven't given us any indication to believe that Courtney and Danielle want Parvati gone. In fact the young girls have seemed awful chummy, and I think the whole game changes when they merge with friends on the opposite tribe. Even Sandra probabaly wants to keep Parv as a previous winner, so I don't know if plan voodoo will work.

-mj

ezc23 said...

Russell won't give Parvarti the idol. He's way too paranoid to give it to anybody else, and he would only use it to gain other people's trust. That was his game in Samoa, and it worked pretty well with Coach. I think people are forgetting a little about Tyson. Who I think could easily swing over to a Russell, Parvarti, and Coach alliance for a blindside. From his season, he's not really the type to follow someone like Rob anyway.

Not sure why there is so much hate on JT voting off Tom. He is definitely a bit lost without his buddy Stephen around to tell him what to do. But yesterday, he made the right choice. He voted off a major threat in individual immunities. I actually think he may have made a smart move without realizing it. First he got rid of the puppet master in the Amanda, James alliance. Then he got rid of a major power on the other end, and at the same time, regaining the trust of James, Amanda. Without Cirie around, James, Amanda, and Rupert really aren't very big threats to him. Plus, in that alliance they still have Parvarti on the Villains when the merge happens. If he stuck it out with Tom & Colby, they won't have much going for them when the merge happens.

Krista said...

I am so surprised by all of the James hate. I really like the guy. While I did not like the yelling session he gave at tribal, I also did not like the condescending, borderline racist comments of Tom. In past seasons, James has been a pretty likable guy. I think he is falling prey to editing that is not in his favor. He is also really competitive and bad a hiding his frustration. James is a take it or leave it kind of person; in a show full of manipulative back stabbers, it is nice to have a few characters who are genuine.

I think JT made the right move ousting Tom. Tom is a threat, and James is not yet a huge liability. He performed well as the caller at the immunity challenge, and his knee may heal quickly. JT should get rid of Candace next, and then maneuver to get rid of Colby, Rupert, or James, depending on how the next few challenges go.

On Villains, I am rooting for Rob. I liked Russell last season, but so far, I am not impressed with his game play. And I agree with Alan, the depiction of the Villain's tribe is quite uneven. The editors need to spread the love. And Coach needs to go. He is ridiculous.

jeri's face? meet post! said...

the heroes should just concede any challenge that involves a puzzle.

"a puzzle, jeff? as a tribe, we quit right now."

it would allow more time for the intrigue of jt flipping and flopping.

eh, then again, the jt thing sucks too.

but you have to admit rupert slamming jeri's face into that post was epic. who here would not do the same if given the chance?

"like i meant too..."

heh. yeah...

Anonymous said...

"He lost to Natalie not because she was some great social player, but because of a bitter jury."

It's the same thing as far as this game goes, no? The jury generally isn't so much voting FOR a particular player as AGAINST the other(s). If he's not playing the game with that in mind, I'm kind of not prepared to call him a gameplay mastermind.

Also, a reasonably authoritative little birdy has told me that Russell was practically led by production to the HII last season, so I'm not reeeeeal impressed. "Smarter than other contestants that season" is a pretty low bar to clear.

I have no problem with Russell playing the game the way he does, in theory, but in practice, he's awfully in love with himself given that it doesn't even work.

-- Sarah D. Bunting